From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Jumping In with Both Feet

Only do what your heart tells you.

Princess Diana

There is a time in life when one must look at the puddle being half full, not half empty.

My ten-year-old son, Shawn, is an optimistic kid. As soon as he turned nine, he told people he was “almost ten.” When he has trouble mastering one of his pre-algebra problems (yes, pre-algebra is the new fourth grade math), he never gives up trying to figure it out. And he has his sights set on owning an exotic car someday, so he spends his free time learning as much as he can about these expensive cars, very much aware of the fact that the one he wants starts at a quarter of a million dollars. “No problem,” he says.

One recent Saturday night when Shawn and I found ourselves walking across a nearly empty parking lot in the pouring rain, a huge smile appeared on his face. Wearing his good school shoes, he jumped into the middle of a very deep puddle and grinned at me, daring me to do the same.

The logical side of me was appalled that Shawn would take a chance on getting in trouble by soaking his designer shoes right through to his socks. Doesn’t he appreciate that I work hard to make money to put those shoes on his feet, as well as a roof over his head and food in his belly? my logical self questioned. Because I am a full-time author and writer, my husband and I budget years out at a time; since most of our income is based on book royalties, which are typically paid anywhere from a year to even three years after a manuscript is completed, we have to plan well and stick to that plan.

As I stood staring at my son in disbelief, I realized that his optimistic anticipation that I would jump into the puddle along with him was stronger than my pessimistic vision of the puddle ruining my good leather shoes and outfit. It was then that my life as a hardworking mom flooded into my reality. How many times had I begged off playing GameCube or building LEGOs with Shawn because of a manuscript deadline? How many times had I rushed him out of the car when dropping him at school to make it home in time for a conference call with a publisher? How many times had I said to him that we couldn’t go to the movies because I had to edit a chapter for yet another book? It was then the most disconcerting question popped into my head: Will the memories of my working hard to provide for Shawn and his older sister outweigh fond memories of acting silly and enjoying his childhood with him?

Luckily it was raining hard, because if it wasn’t, Shawn would have seen tears of gratitude for his lesson flowing down my cheeks. Without warning, I leaped into the puddle; delighted beyond belief, Shawn kicked water at me. I returned his water attack, and the two of us kicked and splashed and even pulled each other into deeper puddles, laughing until our sides hurt. Then hand in soaking hand, we skipped across the flooded parking lot to the ice cream store and treated our cold and shivering selves to double scoops of cookies-and-cream and mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

So the next time you’re with your kids and you come across a rain puddle, tempt yourself to look at it as not half empty, but overflowing with possibilities and fun. Then make a big, carefree splash. I guarantee you that they’ll remember that moment for the rest of their lives, and so will you.

Dahlynn McKowen

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